Ever since the day that Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer walked into a CONCACAF General Congress and announced that the retired Trinidadian schoolteacher intended to run for the Presidency of the organization, the two men's names have been inextricably linked. First it was as the stoutest and most loyal of allies, then as the bitterest of enemies, but since Warner's resignation from football last Summer and Blazer's stepping down from the General Secretary role with CONCACAF and at the same time announcing that he would not seek a new FIFA ExCo term in 2013, those days seemed a thing of the past.
Then came ever-vigilant BigSoccer Legend Golazo with today's Bloomberg News report from the CONCACAF Congress in Budapest: CONCACAF is asking FIFA to allow them to submit a motion proposing the removal of Blazer from his post, effective immediately.
The part that, sadly, isn't going to get the same attention is the one thing I've been fighting a very lonely battle about for over a year now, namely that Jack warner stole the Joao Havelange Center for Excellence, which CONCACAF paid US$16 millon for, and intends to keep it.
The whole thing stems from a report commissioned - somehow or other, it's not at all clear - by CONCACAF, and performed by Chicago Attorney John Collins.
The same John Collins who, according to the CFU when he was investigating Jack Warner last year, was a hopeless tool of the white man, Western imperialism, European footballing interests, the Zionists and, presumably, the forces of International Freemasonry.
He was called such an evil eminence and well known shill that most of the CFU refused to talk to him.
Today, he's the Sword of Truth, Christ come to cleanse the Temple.
However that may be, Collin's report says that Blazer "failed to correctly report tax for at least four years" and that Warner "registered the Center in his own name".
To be fair, something which many of you are likely to be offended by, it should be pointed out that the tax issue Collins refers to has nothing to do with Blazer filing a phony 1040.
Rather, it stems from a dispute over whether - and how much - CONCACAF income is taxable under US law. It's the kind of dispute that, under normal circumstances, is a constant debate and will undoubtedly have to be resolved in US Tax Court.
Blazer denies any error was made.
Which of course is of no interest whatsoever to the CFU as a whole, which - you will recall - tried the same thing last year when they accused him of making "racist remarks" because he told CFU officials in a meeting that they were going to be investigated by FIFA for taking bribes from Bin Hammam.
Which of course they were, and most of them were found guilty and had to either resign or accept suspensions and fines. But let's not confuse the issue with facts.
What we get now is terrible reporting like this charming piece of unbiased work from the AP:
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) CONCACAF nations have asked FIFA to remove American official Chuck Blazer from its executive committee over alleged financial wrongdoing.
Members of the 40-nation confederation turned against their former general secretary Wednesday after getting details of the body's financial affairs.
Delegates lashed out at the disgraced leader, with Cuban delegate Luis Hernandez describing Blazer as a ''thief with a white collar.''
I would mention that Cuban government officials are not really known for their abiding lover for rich American businessmen, but I suppose that's being picky.
Let's look at how Bloomberg put it:
"John Collins...said former general secretary Chuck Blazer failed to correctly report tax for at least four years, and ex-president Jack Warner registered a $22.5 million soccer center in his own name."
A tad less sensational, but on the other hand, perhaps a bit more accurate.
One guy didn't file the right forms, one guy stole $22.5 million bucks worth of real estate.
Pretty much the same thing?
They then go so far - perish forfend - as to give us some actual information:
Collins said the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is also investigating Concacaf because it’s headquartered there. He said the IRS became involved after Concacaf reported potential liabilities.
Concacaf makes most of its money in the U.S. and has to file a return there even though it’s a non-profit organization. Collins said tax filings had never been made in the country.
So apparently CONCACAF self-reported a potential problem and the IRS is looking into it.
Boy, talk about a sensational story.
Even the quote from the Cuban guy nobody ever heard of before today is a bit milder:
“You are sitting on a bomb,” Cuba soccer executive Luis Hernandez told Concacaf president Webb.
Apparently because, again, Cuban officials are just the people to go to for opinions on US Tax law.
Now most assuredly I'd like to welcome everyone to the "Jack Warner openly stole a huge FIFA and CONCACAF asset" story which I've been blatherng about pretty much non stop for a long time now and have never seen one other human even mention it.
Better late then never, I suppose.
As for Blazer, I'll say what I've been saying for years:
Show me something the guy stole. A dollar. A building. A box of office supplies. Someone else's sandwich out of the office fridge. Anything.
I'll happily do a tapdance on his head. I don't like crooks.
But if I wrote a story headlined "Dan Loney is a Big Fat Thief", what would your reaction be?
Would it be "You get some rope and I'll find a tree; that bastard doesn't deserve to live"?
Or would you respond "Really? What did he steal?" and wait for me to tell you?
Yes, the CFU hates him. Yes, Mexico hates him (although that whole issue about not allowing them to take an A team to a tournament once strikes me as a technical disagreement over which honest men can differ, but they still want to carry the grudge, so fine).
But let's point out a couple of things here:
First, I can't believe there's any way in hell that FIFA will let this item on the agenda two days from now. That's been closed for a month or more.
CONCACAF knows this and is just doing this to blow smoke.
Secondly, if the IRS is "looking into" an issue having to do with a technicality of tax law, is that the same as him being guilty of something? Not anyplace I know of.
Third, there seems to be no claim that Blazer did anything for personal gain. None. Even if he screwed up royally, blatantly ignored black and white tax law and it ends up being a huge disaster that costs CONCACAF a fine, there is no intimation that he pocketed a dime. The most you can say is that he made a mistake.
At least he didn't accept an envelope stuffed with US $100 bills, like virtually everyone who approved this request.
Fourth, and most importantly, there's this:
Chuck Blazer is the FIFA Executive Committee member for the North American region.
Not CONCACAF. Not the Caribbean. North America.
The fact that the delegate from Cuba and Surinam and the Lesser Antilles and whatever other flea bitten speck of an island the size of your back yard wants the North American representative sacked bears about as much relevance as me wanting the junior senator from Minnesota recalled.
Not my senator. None of my business.
Bottom line, this is a twofold issue:
The CFU is still angry at Blazer for "blowing the whistle" on Jack Warner, and Mexico wants that seat - which the consider rightfully theirs - back in their own hands and are more than wiling to engage in a little character assassination to get it.
Mostly though, this kerfuffle brings up a point which I made elsewhere earlier today but bears repeating:
The semi-mythical "North American Soccer Union" gets a representative on FIFA's Executive Committee. As do the CFU and the "Central American Football Union" famed in song and legend.
But those "organizations" for lack of a better term, dn't actually get to decide who their representative is. CONCACAF does.
For years, Jack Warner decided who got those spots and then submitted the names to the CONCACAF Congress for a vote.
Essentially, Surinam and Jamaica and Antigua and the rest have always decided who represented us.
You want to talk about where Warner's power came from? How about his ability to personally name - and personally replace - three ExCo members? Along with his own, he had four votes in his pocket every time he walked in the door. If you wanted to get stupid and have your won opinions, he'd simply replace you with someone smarter.
(And this is the power we just turned over to Jeff Webb, who says - I swear to God - that he is "shocked" to discover that there were shenanigans going on. Claude Rains couldn't have delivered it any better.)
Alfredo Hawitt tried to change that, but there was never much chance that the CFU would go along with it. Nothing they like better than picking our rep for us.
And that's how we get to this kind of thing. First you get the CFU to urge FIFA to toss you out, then you get the CFU to vote someone else in.
If we want to reform CONCACAF, let's start here. It shouldn't be up to Cuba and Trinidad to decide who the North American ExCo member is.
Because it is, we gets ridiculous crap like this.